It’s one of the great challenges for any new business, particularly if you’re a solopreneur, that there are only so many hours in a day and only so many things you can realistically get done.
There is a tendency for start-ups – who are famously short staffed – to focus too heavily on some aspects of the business while neglecting others.
Scenario 1: You focus too much on operations and not enough time on strategy
In many cases, an individual who has decided to start their own business has come from a corporate background.
This means they’ve been responsible for specific things within the corporate (that they’re usually very good at), but when transitioning to being an entrepreneur, have to suddenly wear all the hats that the corporate used to take care of, like finance, marketing, strategy, sales etc.
“I used to work for a corporate, and had I known at the time just how much work would be involved with starting my own business, I probably never would have made the jump,” says Rozlyn Stanton, founder of cost management business, Cost Concepts.
“I found that because I had to get so many things done like seeing clients, growing the customer base, book-keeping, marketing, general admin, things like that, that I didn’t have a minute in the day to just sit back and think where I wanted the business to go and how I was going to get there.”
Stanton realised that in order to take her business to the next level that she’d need to not only diarise regular times to think strategy, but that she’d need to commit and keep to them.
“You know it often happens that you sit down to strategise and the next thing an email pops in, a customer calls, there’s some issue that come up, and before you know it, your strat time has vanished.”
Working around it
To cope, she’s hired extra staff who can take care of the activities that are taking time away from strategy.
“I fully realise now that if my business is to thrive I need to systematise it. A lot of the processes and knowledge are in my head, but if I want more time to strategise, they need to be externalised and formalised so that the right staff can be hired and I can focus on managing the business from a strategic point of view.”
Scenario 2: You’re so involved in strategising that you never get out the door.
If you read the biographies of today’s great entrepreneurs you will find a common thread, and that’s that there’s never a perfect time to start a business:
There are always going to be difficulties and conditions are never going to be perfect. Neither is your business plan.
Provided the idea is well conceptualised, the business model itself is going to change – it should change.
It’s a good idea to have your concept will thought-out, but don’t get hung up on analysis paralysis.
You’re only going to find out what strategies, products or services are going to work by testing them in the field. This is a concept based on what’s called an “iteration cycle”.
It’s not the most important thing to have a perfect product or service put out to the market, but the ability for you to make adjustments and continually improve on it.
Work around it
The world has changed substantially from the 90s where corporates were unaccountable for their mistakes, in fact they flatly denied if they ever messed up. These days, that doesn’t fly.
Customers don’t expect businesses to be perfect, they expect them to be honest. Meaning, put your product or service out there, watch what’s happens and the response to it, admit the short comings, consider how you can improve, implement those changes and get it out there again. Repeat.
Today’s trend is for customers to be involved in research and development of products or services they buy.
Get them involved, find out what they want, and how best your offering can be tailored to suit them. Most of all, don’t expect things to stay the same – change is the only constant.